Subscribe to:

Subscribe to :: TheGuruReview.net ::

Oracle Issues An Emergency Patch For Java

February 11, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Oracle has bestowed the gift of an out-of-band security patch on its customers following problems with Java and Windows.

You should manage the passage of Security Alert CVE-2016-0603 with some urgency. Oracle gave this to you over the weekend, but the weekend is the weekend and no-one expects out-of-band patches anyway.

An Oracler called Eric Maurice is the giver of the bad news, depending on how you approach security updates, saying that application of the patch will prevent vulnerabilities with Java 6, 7 and 8 on the Windows platform.

The flaw has received a CVSS Base Score of 7.6, which translates as High. You might call it ‘urgent’. To be honest, Oracle has already given out enough tasks for security staffers with its January patch rain-making.

Maurice reckons that victims would not merely walk into exploitation in this instance but could be tricked into it by hackers and miscreants.

“To be successfully exploited, this vulnerability requires that an unsuspecting user be tricked into visiting a malicious website and download files to the user’s system before installing Java 6, 7 or 8. Though considered relatively complex to exploit, this vulnerability may result, if successfully exploited, in a complete compromise of the unsuspecting user’s system,” he said.

“Customers need not upgrade existing Java installations to address the vulnerability because the exposure exists only during the installation process. As a reminder, Oracle recommends that Java home users visit Java.com to ensure that they are running the most recent version of Java SE and that all older versions have been completely removed.”

While you’re at it, Maurice warned that you should only ever download Java from Java.com. This is good advice.

Also available for advice is Qualys CTO Wolfgang Kandek who swung by to tell us that the best kind of Java is the most recent.

“As Oracle points out, existing installations are not at risk. New installations should use the latest fixed packages published by Oracle. This would address the situation where an end-user might have visited a malicious site which could have prepared the machine for an attack by downloading altered versions of one of the DLLs involved,” he said.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Kingston Announces Acquisition Of USB Technology Maker IronKey

February 10, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Kingston Technology has announced that it has acquired the USB technology and assets of IronKey from Imation Corp.

Imation, which purchased the then privately-held IronKey in 2011, did not disclose the financial details of the sale to Kingston.

IronKey is perhaps best known for its highly secure USB flash drives, which use 256-bit AES encryption algorithm to secure data and a stainless steel case with no seams so it cannot be pried open.

The secure storage devices are validated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to meet the stringent Level 3 criteria of FIPS 140-2. Combined with the cloud-based IronKey Enterprise Management Service, data security can be managed and audited from anywhere in the world.

IronKey’s thumb drives carry with them a hefty price as well. For example, a 32GB thumb drive can retail for as much as $599. However, you can also find them on online sites for around $280.

Kingston, which has had an encrypted portable drive line since it launched its DataTraveler product more than 10 years ago, said IronKey is one of the “leading alternative brands in encrypted USB flash” drives.

“The acquisition provides customers with a more comprehensive portfolio of products and services, and demonstrates Kingston’s commitment as the global leader in trusted encrypted solutions for mobile data,” Kingston said in a statement.

Kingston envisions no immediate changes that would affect the channel partners now  supporting IronKey products.

“IronKey customers with any questions or concerns are asked to contact their current distribution or reseller partners, or email ironkey@kingston.com,” the company said.

 

 

 

Will Nintendo Get Into Virtual Reality Gaming?

February 10, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Nintendo’s earnings report and briefing earlier this week were a bit of a damp squib for anyone hoping for more information on the company’s future plans; on NX and on smartphone games alike, the company remained utterly silent. We found out that you’ll be able to pre-register for the Miitomo smartphone app on the 17th of February, with the app itself to launch in March, but you’d have to be a truly ardent follower of Nintendo’s fortunes for that to create more than the slightest flicker of interest. What we actually knew by the end of the earnings report was this – Splatoon is really popular, people are buying an extraordinary number of amiibos, and there’s a special Pokemon-themed edition of the 3DS coming later this month to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Pokemon, which is important news because it means it’s 20 years since Pokemon launched and we’re all really, really old.

The frisson of excitement that spread around the media at the comment that the publisher is “looking into” virtual reality, then, is understandable – for journalists and fans looking for something interesting in the otherwise barren briefing, this was a sip of ice water in hell. Nintendo and VR! VR and Nintendo! An opportunity not only to speculate wildly about NX, but to dust off some hoary old jokes about the Virtual Boy; who could pass up on such a thing?

The thing is, “we’re looking into VR” is perhaps the most lukewarm statement Nintendo or any other company could make about VR. On the blandness scale, it ranks alongside “we know it exists” and “we’ve looked it up and figured out what the letters stand for”. To say any less would have required an active dismissal of VR; simply saying that the company knows VR is happening, and is keeping an eye on developments, is the bare minimum that you’d expect from any company in the industry. “Nintendo aware that VR exists” isn’t much of a headline, I’ll grant you, but it’s pretty close to what was actually announced by the company.

Of course, Nintendo isn’t going to dismiss VR out of hand; the company knows, perhaps better than most, that technological disruption can come from the most unexpected directions and upset market segments in unforeseen ways. The 3DS will never match sales of the DS, not because it’s got a weak software line-up – the software line-up is downright remarkable – but because Apple, a company that spent decades making expensive computers for artists and designers and never had the slightest truck with the videogame market, invented a tiny computer with a touch-screen and sold about, oh, a billion of them, to people who promptly decided that they didn’t need another tiny computer just to play videogames on the train. Is VR going to do something similar to other market segments? Sure, maybe (I’d argue that VR’s potential to disrupt areas of “serious” computing is perhaps greater than its potential to significantly change the videogame market); either way, Nintendo is absolutely going to be watching it closely and making sure it’s not left looking stupid if things take off in an unexpected direction.

For now, though, watching carefully is all anyone should expect of Nintendo and VR. The reality is that, the company’s ill-fated experiments with early iterations of the technology notwithstanding, VR doesn’t fit with Nintendo’s philosophy as a company. Although the multiplayer and social networking aspects of VR are yet to be explored (remember that Facebook is, at great cost, a big player in this field), one thing is absolutely certain about VR interaction – it’s remarkably anti-social in a “people in the same room as you” sense. The whole point of putting on a VR headset is to immerse yourself in a different world; of necessity, this involves cutting yourself off from the world, and the people, around you. That’s not a bad thing, per se; if immersion is what you want, it’s actually a selling point. It’s also sharply contrary to the most basic nature of Nintendo’s design philosophy.

Nintendo is about social gaming; if there’s one core concept that sums up the brand and the appeal of Nintendo over the past couple of decades, it’s that one. Playing with other people, ideally in a physical, real-world context, is at the heart of the design philosophy that underlies both Nintendo’s hardware and its software. The company’s home consoles are designed to support multiple controllers easily (the sadly under-utilised core concept of the Wii U was to create asymmetric gameplay opportunities using the GamePad and a clutch of Wiimote controllers, for instance), while its handheld consoles are designed with communication features that enable online play, sure, but are most effectively deployed in enabling communication with nearby players. In software terms, of course, it’s not that Nintendo lacks games designed for one player – there’s not much social gaming mileage in Fire Emblem, Legend of Zelda or Xenoblade – but many of the core titles that support the company’s systems are deeply focused on social play. Mario Kart is perhaps the most obvious of these, but local multiplayer in racing games is nothing new; to see how deeply ingrained in Nintendo’s DNA social play really is, think of how the company reworked the role-playing game to encourage local multiplayer match-ups with Pokemon, its expansion of the beat ‘em up from a head-to-head experience to a four-player rumble with Super Smash Bros. or even, all the way back then, the reimagining of online FPS gameplay, still in its infancy, into the four-player split-screen of Rare’s Goldeneye.

If you’ve owned Nintendo consoles recently, as most of you probably have, think about what you’ve owned for them. In my own living room, there’s no question which console gets the most usage – in spite of our love for Splatoon, it’s the PS4 that’s used most, followed by the PS3 – but we own one PS4 control pad, and while there’s a second PS3 pad somewhere I don’t think it’s been plugged in since we moved house over a year ago. For the Wii U, meanwhile, we own a GamePad, two classic controllers and three Wiimotes – and the Wii U is always, always the console that gets turned on when friends come over for drinks. It occupies a very different position in terms of usage and context to the PlayStation consoles, and that is very much by design on Nintendo’s part, not by accident. Television advertising for Nintendo games, in Japan at least, strongly emphasises this social aspect; almost every ad features multiple people sitting on a sofa enjoying a game together (boyband members racing each other in Mario Kart, kids putting their heads together to design a fiendish Mario Maker stage that dad won’t be able to beat, etc.). The social nature of Nintendo games is front and centre, and strongly contrasts with ads for PlayStation games, which rarely feature any imagery of the (solo) player at all.

How would VR fit with that? It’s not a question of whether Nintendo’s hardware would be capable of it (we still don’t know what NX will be capable of at all) or whether the company would be able to make good VR games (the firm’s track record surely proves that it’s perfectly capable of making good games on just about anything). It’s a question of how the entire brand Nintendo has cultivated, the perceptions it has built and the philosophy it espouses, would fit with the image of someone not only playing a game entirely solo (which is just fine), but actively donning a headset to block out the world around them while they engage with that world. In Nintendo’s conception of fun, the entertainment value of a game extends beyond the screen to the physical world and the people around you with whom you’re competing, cooperating and sharing the experience. VR flies in the face of that, and undermines the nature of the games which Nintendo has been most successful with over the years.

This isn’t to say that some aspects of VR technology won’t be of interest to Nintendo. Augmented Reality, the technology underlying Microsoft’s Hololens, is a much more natural fit for Nintendo; the company has actually messed with AR technology on the 3DS, although it didn’t use it for anything markedly exciting, and it’s entirely probable that the NX will build on that to some degree (although I don’t anticipate anything even remotely like the Hololens headset). Virtual reality headsets, though, are not going to carry a Nintendo logo any time soon – and unless they become a truly disruptive force in gaming, they probably never will. The company has wide-ranging interests, but a clear vision of what it means for something to be a “Nintendo product” – and that’s a vision that simply doesn’t include VR.

Courtesy-GI.biz

 

Another Security Flaw Discovered In iPhones and iPads

February 10, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

Researchers have found an authentication bypass-sized hole in iPhones and iPads running iOS 8 and iOS 9.

This threat is real people, there is a video of it and documentation available online. It’s all pretty technical but the upshot is the vulnerability lets an attacker bypass the lockscreen on handsets running iOS 8 and iOS 9.

“An application update loop that results in a pass code bypass vulnerability has been discovered in the official Apple iOS (iPhone5&6 / iPad2) v8.x, v9.0, v9.1 & v9.2. The security vulnerability allows local attackers to bypass pass code lock protection of the Apple iPhone via an application update loop issue,” says the official technical description.

In rather loose language it continues: “Local attacker can trick the iOS device into a mode were a runtime issue with unlimited loop occurs. This finally results in a temporarily deactivate of the pass code lock screen. By loading the loop with remote app interaction we were able to stable bypass the auth of an iPhone after the reactivation via shutdown button. The settings of the device was permanently requesting the pass code lock on interaction.

“Normally the pass code lock is being activated during the shutdown button interaction. In case of the loop the request shuts the display down but does not activate the pass code lock.”

David Bisson, a regulator commentator on security, puts it more succinctly on the Graham Cluley blog, and throws in a couple of warnings about how and where you download your software. “This condition can be exploited by shutting down (or powering off) the device, at which point in time the passcode authentication feature is not activated as designed,” he said.

“Upon reboot (or re-activation), that protective feature remains disabled, allowing an attacker to access the device without a passcode… iOS users should therefore be careful when leaving their devices unattended around people they might not know.”

We have asked Apple to comment on the vulnerability and are awaiting a response.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Samsung 4K Blu-ray Players Already Hit The Streets

February 10, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Uncategorized

According to a post by USA Today, the Los Angeles area retailer began selling the Samsung UBDK8500 on February 5th for $397.99. The device is available in-store only, so we are expecting locals to rush in over the weekend and grab the player quickly as retailers are not expected to begin selling them for another few weeks.

In January, we wrote that Samsung’s UBDK8500 would begin arriving early to New York City-based Internet retailer B&H Photo Video as well as Crutchfield.com. Both sites are currently taking preorders for $399 and are expected to have stock on February 15th and February 17th, respectively.

For the initial public launch, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players are expected to be in high demand and limited supply as there will only be three options to choose from – the Samsung UBDK8500, the Philips BDP7501, and the Panasonic DMP-UB900.

We have asked Samsung if the company plans to release any 4K Ultra HD BD-ROM drives for PC, as we expect these to be a much better value-per-dollar than the standalone home entertainment players mentioned above. Unfortunately, the company says it cannot comment at this time.

Couretsy-Fud

 

Is Mozilla Dropping Smartphones For IoT?

February 9, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

The Mozilla Foundation has confirmed details of its shift in strategy for Firefox OS which will see it abandon future phone development in favour of using the software as (yet another) IoT platform.

In an announcement to the developer community by John Bernard, director of collaboration for Connected Devices at Mozilla, and George Roter, head of core contributors, it was confirmed that Firefox OS for smartphones will be canned at version 2.6.

“The circumstances of multiple established operating systems and app ecosystems meant that we were playing catch-up, and the conditions were not there for Mozilla to win on commercial smartphones,” they said in a statement.

Meh. Could have told you that one two years ago.

In addition, the Firefox OS Marketplace will no longer accept submissions for Android, desktop and tablet apps. Apps for Firefox OS itself will remain accepted until sometime in 2017.

At the moment, the new emphasis on connected devices is in the internal testing phase with three products ‘past the first gate’ and more in the pipeline. It is expected that this process will be opened to outsiders before the end of the second quarter.

The foxfooding (think dogfooding, or insider programme) will continue, turning its focus to connected products, and by the end of March, Mozilla intends to identify how the existing Sony Z3 Compact devices used for testing so far will figure going forwards.

The statement continued “Obviously, these decisions are substantial. The main reason they are being made is to ensure we are focusing our energies and resources on bringing the power of the web to IoT. And let’s remember why we’re doing this: we’re entering this exciting, fragmented space to ensure users have choice through interoperable, open solutions, and for us to act as their advocates for data privacy and security.”

This seems to suggest that Mozilla wants to help the fragmentation issue by fragmenting it further. This is the ongoing problem with connected devices – everyone wants to be the one to end the fragmentation with their solution.

One of the solutions through the internal tests early doors is the Firefox Smart TV platform, an already fragmented market that should still be licking its wounds from the Matchstick debacle.

Roter adds, “Our push into the Connected Devices space will absolutely necessitate strong community support for our initiatives to be successful – and that means hacking on and testing new product innovations coming through the pipeline.”

 

Courtesy-TheInq

Edge Continues To Weaken Microsoft’s Browser Standing

February 9, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

The inability of Microsoft’s Edge to gain new users from the Windows 10 operating system has contributed to the company’s overall decline in browser share, analysis of recently-published data shows.

According to several metrics sources, Edge’s share of the global Windows 10user base was significantly lower in January than was Internet Explorer’s (IE) share of all Windows users, signaling that Microsoft has not been able to maintain the historical — or even current — percentages of Windows customers on its newest browser.

Last month, Edge’s share of all Windows 10 users was 26% in U.S.-based analytics firm Net Applications’ estimate. That was a decrease of two percentage points from December, and 10 points lower than in September.

In comparison, Net Applications’ IE-only share of all Windows users was a much more substantial 48%, or nearly double that of Edge on Windows 10. In other words, almost half of all Windows users ran a version of IE last month, while just over one-fourth of Windows 10 users ran Edge.

Because Edge works only on Windows 10, and IE only on Windows, it’s relatively easy to calculate the percentages. That’s not the case with other browsers, including Google’s Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox, which run on multiple editions of Windows and on rival operating systems, such as Apple’s OS X.

Other measurement sources portrayed the same situation: Edge has not held up its side of the bargain for Microsoft.

Irish vendor StatCounter, for example, pegged January’s Edge global share of Windows 10 at 13%, while IE’s share of all Windows was a more substantial 19%.

A third source, the Digital Analytics Program (DAP), tagged Edge’s share of Windows 10 for January at 24%, up one point from December. According to DAP, the IE-only share of all Windows traffic was 40%.

 

 

 

Seeed Studios Debuts $59 Do-it-yourself Mobile Phone Kit

February 9, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

You can put together a basic 2G cellphone at home with the RePhone Kit Create, which can also be used to make wearables and IoT devices.

The kit from Seeed Studios ships with separate modules that can be pieced together to create a 2G phone with a 1.54-in. LCD screen. Icons on the display can be used to make phone calls or send text messages.

There’s more to RePhone than being a fun device. The kit also is a small development board to make wearable and IoT devices with cellular communication capabilities.

The $59 kit is now shipping, and comes with a small battery and modules for a SIM card — that’s how you connect to a carrier’s network — as well as speaker, GSM, NFC and Bluetooth Low Energy. It also ships with craft paper that can be the skin of the phone.

By October, the company hopes to upgrade RePhone Kit Create with a 4G communications module, said Wells Tu, marketing director at Seeed Studio in an e-mail.

Seeed Studio, which is in Shenzhen, China, received $276,865 from 3,399 backers on Kickstarter to make the RePhone Kit Create. More than 10,000 kits have been sold so far, Tu said.

The kit has spawned interesting wearable and IoT ideas, Tu said. One project involves a homegrown traceable dog tracker, with a RePhone kit in the collar tracking and calling dogs back home through voice commands.

Another idea floated in RePhone’s forums is a simple tracking device for things not expected to move, like a parked car. The goal with RePhone is to have a basic device to allow new IoT applications to be explored, Tu said.

Most IoT development boards today have only Bluetooth or Wi-Fi capabilities. Wearable development boards like MIPS’ Creator Ci40 don’t have cellular capabilities.

The RePhone has two connectors so other modules for motion control and GPS can be attached. It has standard ports found on developer boards to attach cameras and other external devices.

The guts of the phone include an ARM-based microcontroller, 4MB of RAM and 16MB of storage. Programs for RePhone can be written using JavaScript, the Lua scripting language or the Arduino integrated development environment.

 

 

 

BlackBerry Eliminates 200 Jobs, Trims Costs

February 9, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

BlackBerry Ltd  plans to cut 200 jobs at its hometown headquarters in Ontario and in Florida in order to trim costs, as the smartphone maker moves to turn around its fortunes and put more emphasis on its enterprise software business.

“As BlackBerry continues to execute its turnaround plan, we remain focused on driving efficiencies across our global workforce,” the company said in an emailed statement.

The company declined to comment on what percentage of its workforce is affected by the cuts. According to a filing, the company had 6,225 employees as of Feb. 28, 2015.

The layoffs will affect 75 manufacturing jobs in Sunrise, Florida, a state government website showed.

The company also confirmed that Gary Klassen is one of the people who has departed in the latest round of cuts. Klassen was one of its longest-tenured employees and the inventor of its BBM messaging service.

One source familiar with the matter, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue, said many of the Canadian cuts were people working on its BB10 handset software at its Waterloo, Ontario, headquarters.

A spokeswoman for BlackBerry declined to comment on which divisions will be affected by the cuts, but said the company stood by its commitment to release further updates on its BB10 software.

Last September, the company laid off roughly 200 staff, who had worked on the hardware and design of the BB10 devices. The company began releasing the BB10-based devices in January 2013, but despite positive reviews the smartphones failed to win back market share from Apple Inc’s iPhone, and the slew of Android-based devices that dominate the global market.

In a final attempt to revive its handset business BlackBerry released its first Android-based device in November. It has stated it plans to release at least one more Android-based phone this year.

BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen has said he will make a decision on whether the company’s handset business is viable in the financial year beginning in late February.

 

 

 

Dell Appears To Be Taking Security To The BIOS Level

February 9, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Grey tin box shifter Dell wants to beef up security on its business laptops and PCs by introducing a new tool which helps to protect the BIOS from malware.

Attacks like this are rare and hard for software security to handle. Even wiping your harddrive and reinstalling software will not fix them.

Dell has introduced this new tool which makes a copy of the clean BIOS which is kept in the cloud, and compares it with snapshot with the machine’s BIOS every time it boots. If something’s been hacked or messed with it can be flagged up.

This allows the admin to be notified of the problem, and the system reverted to the clean BIOS. Dell wants to automate the entire process, but at the moment it still needs to be done manually.

Dell is making the system optional, and will cost extra for users.  It will be available on Dell’s Precision and OptiPlex models, along with XPS PCs and Venue Pro tablets.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Mozilla Announces End Date For Firefox Mobile OS

February 8, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Mozilla has announced when it plans to shut down the Firefox mobile operating system.

Firefox OS for smartphones will be retired once Mozilla wraps up version 2.6, George Roter, who leads Mozilla’s Participation Lab, said in a long message posted to the company’s website.

Firefox OS 2.6 is currently slated for a May 30 release.

Nearly two months ago, Mozilla confirmed that it wascalling it quits on Firefox OS in its current incarnation, ending more than four years of work building a browser-based, smartphone operating system.

Instead, Mozilla said that it would use the resources freed up by the shuttering of Firefox OS on smartphones to pivot toward an operating system for connected devices, the category dubbed “Internet of things,” or IoT.

“The main reason [these decisions] are being made is to ensure we are focusing our energies and resources on bringing the power of the Web to IoT,” said Roter.

Roter was more direct in explaining the reasoning for turning off Firefox OS’s spigot than were Mozilla executives in December.

“The circumstances of multiple established operating systems and app ecosystems meant that we were playing catch-up, and the conditions were not there for Mozilla to win on commercial smartphones,” Roter acknowledged. “We have decided that in order to succeed in the new area of connected devices we must focus our energy completely on prototyping the future and exploring how we can make the biggest impact in IoT.”

Ari Jaaksi, the executive who runs Mozilla’s Connected Devices group, was just as candid. “We could not create a compelling and differentiating end-user value proposition and we failed to build the full ecosystem,” he wrote on a company blog, referring to Firefox OS for smartphones.

Along with the demise of Firefox OS, on March 29 Mozilla will stop accepting submissions to its app store for Web apps that run in Firefox on Android as well as the desktop- and tablet-centric versions of the browser. Apps for those platforms now in the store will be removed on that same day; in other words, Mozilla will kill the small app ecosystem it had struggled to create.

After March 29, only apps for Firefox OS on smartphones will be available on the store. Mozilla is also dead-ending the store’s payment support, meaning that developers will have to scramble to find another payment provider or make their paid apps free.

 

 

 

 

 

AMD Develops The Excavator Processor Specifically For Gamers

February 5, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AMD has unveiled a handful of new processors as part of its 2016 desktop refresh, including the first chip based on the Excavator core to target desktop PCs. The firm will also release new motherboards with high-speed USB 3.1 ports and connectors to support M.2 Sata SSDs.

AMD’s new desktop processors are available now, and aimed chiefly at the enthusiast and gamer markets. They comprise three chips fitting into the firm’s FM2+ processor socket infrastructure for mainstream systems.

Two of these chips are based on the Godavari architecture and are APUs featuring Steamroller CPU cores and Graphics Core Next GPU cores. The A10-7860K has four CPU cores and eight GPU cores with a clock speed of 3.6GHz, while the A6-7470K has dual CPU cores and four GPU cores at a clock speed of 3.7GHz. Both have a maximum Turbo speed of 4GHz.

The A10-7860K is not AMD’s top-end chip, coming in below the A10-7870K and the A10-7890K, but it does replace three existing chips in the A10 line-up, the A10-7850K, A10-7700K and A10-7800.

“The interesting thing about the A10-7860K is that it delivers the same high 4GHz Turbo speed, but it is a 65W part, so it delivers comparable performance to the A10-7850K, but we’re dropping 30W,” said AMD client product manager Don Woligroski.

 

The third chip is badged under AMD’s Athlon brand, as it has CPU cores only and does not qualify as an APU. The Athlon X4 845 features four of the new Excavator cores used in the mobile Carrizo platform, clocked at 3.5GHz with a Turbo speed of up to 3.8GHz.

Neither is the Athlon X4 845 at the top of the Athlon stack, but is “more of an efficient, really great low-cost part”, according to Woligroski.

AMD will also deliver new motherboards to complement the latest processors sometime during the first quarter of 2016. These bring support for USB 3.1 Gen2 ports with the new Type-C connector, offering 10Gbps data rates, plus connectors for M.2 SATA SSD modules. M.2 modules are more usually seen in laptop and mobile systems because of their compact size.

Future AMD desktop chips will converge on a common socket infrastructure known as AM4, according to Woligroski. The first processors to use this are likely to be the upcoming Summit Ridge desktop chip and Bristol Ridge APU.

AMD also announced a new heatsink and fan combination for cooling the chips. The AMD Wraith Cooler (below) is claimed to deliver 34 percent more airflow while generating less than a 10th of the noise of its predecessor at 39dbA.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Fitness Trackers Leaking User Data, Study Finds

February 4, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Some of the more popular sports wearables don’t just let you track your fitness, they also allow you to be tracked.

That’s what Canadian researchers found when they studied fitness-tracking devices from eight manufacturers, along with their companion mobile apps.

All the devices studied except for the Apple Watch transmitted a persistent, unique Bluetooth identifier, allowing them to be tracked by the beacons increasingly being used by retail stores and shopping malls to recognize and profile their customers.

The revealing devices, the Basis Peak, Fitbit Charge HR, Garmin Vivosmart, Jawbone Up 2, Mio Fuse, Withings Pulse O2 and Xiaomi Mi Band, all make it possible for their wearers to be tracked using Bluetooth even when the device is not paired with or connected to a smartphone, the researchers said. Only the Apple device used a feature of the Bluetooth LE standard to generate changing MAC addresses to prevent tracking.

In addition, companion apps for the wearables variously leaked login credentials, transmitted activity tracking information in a way that allowed interception or tampering, or allowed users to submit fake activity tracking information, according to an early draft of the report, “Every Step you Fake: A Comparative Analysis of Fitness Tracker Privacy and Security.” It was published by Canadian non-profit Open Effect, and researched with help from the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto.

The apps are typically used to gather data from the fitness tracking device and upload it to a central server, where users can analyze their performance and perhaps compare it with that of other device wearers.

Using a man-in-the-middle attack, researchers were able to spy on traffic between the apps and the servers for all but two of the apps, Apple’s Watch 2.1 and Intel’s Basis Peak 1.14.0. For the six remaining apps, this allowed them to observe even encrypted data sent via HTTPS.

Apple and Intel used a technique called certificate pinning to avoid being fooled by the fake security certificates presented by the researchers. Intel has been highlighting the risks of poorly secured wearable devices since at least 2014, when it published the report “Safeguarding the Future of Digital America 2025.”

 

 

 

 

 

Regardless Of The Rhetoric Windows Tablets Doing Ok

February 4, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

For years Microsoft held a torch for the tablet even while everyone else mocked them. When Apple turned the concept into a gimmick and everyone bought one, Microsoft was mocked for not really understanding the tablet.

Now it seems that Redmond is the only one making tablets that people want again, as the market slowly shrinks to the point before Jobs claimed “his” invention was a “game changer.”

Strategy Analytics said that final quarter of 2015 witnessing the worst year-on-year decline for a product that it has seen.

The company’s ‘Preliminary Global Tablet Shipments and Market Share by Operating System: Q4 2015′ report estimates that tablet shipment numbers fell to 69.9 million units in Q4, which is a record drop of 11 per cent. Over the full year of 2015, shipments reached 224 million units which represented a drop of 8 per cent.

TrendForce estimated a bigger drop over the course of the full year with a 12.2 per cent decline compared to 2014′s shipment numbers.

However Strategy Analytics said that the only one to do well was Microsoft. Windows tablets witnessed growth of 59 per cent in Q4 compared to the previous year.

Part of this is because 2-in-1 PCs are doing well and expected to do better. Strategy Analytics observed a huge 379 per cent  leap in year-on-year growth in Q4 2015.

Eric Smith, Senior Analyst, Tablet & Touchscreen Strategies service at Strategy Analytics, said: “2-in-1 Detachable Tablets have reached an inflection point in 2015 as computing needs continue to trend more and more mobile and Tablets with Windows 10 can compete against iOS in the premium and high price bands and equally well against Android in the mid and lower price bands.

“The Q4 2015 launch of Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book was met with many ‘Surface clones’ by Microsoft’s OEM partners at lower price points. This variety of devices will bolster momentum of Windows Tablets going forward.”

Apple is still the top tablet vendor with a share of 23.1 per cent in Q4 of last year. But it fell heavily from 27.3 per cent the previous year. Cupertino’s shipment numbers dropped from 21.4 million units to 16.1 million units this year.

Samsung was in second place with a 12.9 per cent market share, down from 13.9 per cent the previous year. Lenovo saw slight growth in third place with an increase from 4.7 per cent to a 5.7 per cent share in Q4 2015, with Amazon slipping to fourth place, dropping from 4.9 per cent to 4.4 per cent.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Will MediaTek’s Helio Debut This Year?

February 4, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

MediaTek’s a Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer David Ku has confirmed that the company plans to ship the X30 in 2016.

The X30 has been ephemeral product for quite some time although it had been expected that the X30 would follow the X20 eventually. Ku expects that phones based on Helio P10 and X20 should start to arrive in this quarter.

The majority of the design wins for the performance and mainstream phones for the first half of 2016 will be for last year’s flagship the Helio X10, the upcoming Helio P10 and soon to become new flagship Helio X20.

Ku mentioned during the company’s fourth financial quarter of 2015 that Mediatek will launch a Helio X30 and that this will happen in the second part of the year. This was the time of the year when Mediatek launched the X20.

The X30 will be released in 2016 but the phones will only show up in 2017.

The normal design cycle of the phone usually lasts 12 to 18 months. The Helio P20, the company’s first 16nm SoC is expected in the second half of 2016. With some luck, we might see some device shipping with this new SoC before the end of the year.

MediaTek didn’t give any additional information about the Helio X30, other than to acknowledge its existence. Let’s first see how the Helip X20 and P10 will do this year.

Courtesy-Fud